Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats

Tffs town of Maha-ban—population 6,182—is some five or sk miles from
Mathura, lower down the stream and on the opposite bank of the Jaxanna.
Though the country in Its neighbourhood is BOW singularly bare, the name
indicates that It must at one time have been densely wooded; and so late as the
year 1634 AJX we find the Emperor Shahjahan ordering a hunt there and
killing four tigers. It stands a little inland, about a mile distant from Goknl;
which latter place has approprkted the more famous name, though It is In
reality only the water-side suburb of the aacient town. This is clearly indicated
by the fact that all the traditional sites of Krishna's adventures^ described In
the Puranas as haying taken place at Qokul, are shown at MaM-ban; while the
Groknl temples are essentially modern in all their associations: whatever celebrity
they possess Is derived from their having been founded by the descendants of
VaHabM-ch&rya, ihe great heresiaret of the sixteenth century. The existence
of Goknl as a distinct town was no doubt long antecedent to its religious
aggrandizement, and probably dates from the time when the old Hindu fori
was occupied by a Mutammadan garrison and the Hindus expelled beyond its
immediate precincts.
Taking^ then, MaM-baa as equivalent to the Gofad of Sanskrit literature,
the connection between It and Hathnra has always been of a most intimate
clmracter. For5 according to the legend, Krishna was bom at the one and
cradled at the other. Both, too, make their first appearance in history together
and under most imfortanate circumstances, having been sacked by Mahmiid of
Ghazni in the year 1017 AJX From the effects of this catastrophe it would
seem tint Maha-ban was never able to recover itself. It is casually mentioned
in connection with the year 1234 A*D.? by Mmh&j-i-Sir&j, a contemporary
writer, as one- of the gathering places for the Imperial army sent by Shams-nd-
din against Ealanjar; and the Emperor Babar? in Ms memoirSj incidentally
refers to it, as if it were a place of some importance still, in the year 1526 A.D,;
tut tie name occurs in the pages of no other chronicle; and at the present day,
though it is the seat of a tahsili, It can scarcely be called more than a consider-
able village, WitMtt the last few year% one or two large and handsome private
residences have bean hnilfc, with fronts of carved stone in the Mathnra style;
but && temples are &U exceedingly mean aad of no antiquity. The largest and